Chapter 3 The last of the Leap-in blurriness was fading from his eyes when a hard, backhand slap sent Sam sprawling. "Get up, Tommie," a man's voice screamed. Sam hated it when a leap started out with him on the defensive, especially since he didn't know whom he had leaped into, or why he was having to defend himself. But none of that matter right now. Waiting a second for his his vision to focus, the time traveler looked up at the dark blonde young man coming at him with clenched fists and an expression of uncontrolled rage. As his vilely angry aggressor reached for him, from his sprawled position on the floor, Sam kicked and sent the man flying backwards, then scrambled to his feet. "Listen.." Sam began, assuming a semi crouched stance, balancing lightly on the balls of his feet, ready to defend himself from any direction. But even his martial arts training was no match for the runaway locomotive of rage bearing down on him. Again, another stinging, head-snapping backhand knocked him down. "Get up, goddammit!" the man screamed at him again. "Why? So you can knock me down again?" Sam gasped, tasting blood from the two fresh splits on his lower lip. "No thanks. I'll stay here." Sam yelped when, for his defiance, the man lunged forward, grabbed a handful of his hair and shook him till Sam was sure his teeth were rattling. He gasped again when he was hauled to his feet and slammed against a wall. Curling one hand into a fist, Sam was about to throw a punch when he heard the Imaging Chamber door open. "Al!" he gasped, wincing as his head was banged against the wall. "Al?" the angry man spat the name, his face inches from Sam's becoming almost white as his rage intensified. "You filthy, cheating bitch! Who is he? Who?!" Hearing his assailant call him "bitch" clued Sam in a bit about the person he had leaped into. [Oh, God...I'm a woman!] "Sam!" the Observer yelled. "Don't hit him!" "What?!" Sam gasped as the powerful fingers holding him under his chin tightened, fingernails digging into his flesh, not at all sure he had heard the Observer correctly. "His name's Derek, Sam, and he's a loose cannon. A real psycho," Al said, keeping his words clear and crisp. "Choose your words carefully, otherwise Ziggy says it's a ninety-eight percent probability he's gonna kill you in the next two minutes." "Who is he?!" Sam's mind whirled frantically in search of an answer as the screamed question reverberated in his ears. He didn't know what caused him to whisper, "D..daddy?" "Isn't it just too damned bad he's been dead for seven months?" the young man mocked. "That means it's just us, baby. You and me." [I'm a woman!] Sam thought frantically, [and married to this manic!] Tightening his grip on Tommie's bruised and battered face, blood from her nose and split lip covering his hand, Derek pushed her chin up and clamped his other hand on her throat. Then, using just one hand, forced her harder against and up the wall, the tips of her toes barely brushing the floor. "I told your old man the day we got married that I'd take care of his little girl, and I damn well meant it." Reaching into his pocket with his free hand, he drew out a switchblade, and flicked it open. He liked the terror he saw in her blue eyes, now barely visible through the ugly, purpling swelling around her eyes. A twisted satisfaction showed on his face as he delicately put the point of the deadly blade between her small breasts, her nylon gown melting open as he slowly drew the razor-edged blade down the length of her torso. Gently he pressed it until she winced as the point of the blade pierced the outer layer of skin on her lower belly. "You ever threaten me like that again, Tommie," he said in silken tones, "and I'll take care of you all right. I'll gut you, you worthless whore, and dump your body in the middle of main street. You got that?" Sam managed a semblance of a nod, the back of his head rubbing against the wall. "I won't do it again," he pleaded, his voice a strangled whisper. "Please...just don't hurt me any more." The way he was held was inhibiting his breathing, and Sam felt instinctive panic rising as his lungs burned for air. "I..can't..breathe," he whispered, looking into his assailant's eyes. As suddenly as he'd slammed Tommie against the wall, Derek let go, watching indifferently as the beaten woman collapsed on the floor, gulping in air. Taking a step toward her, he watched his wife of seven months jerk back, scooting back until she cowered against the wall, one arm raised near her face in a semblance of protection. Using the toe of his polished shoe, he pushed the hem of her gown, already hiked up to the middle of her thighs by her scooching, higher. He smiled when he felt her trembling at his touch. Drawing his foot back, Derek squatted on his haunches before her, and made a deliberate show of folding the switchblade and returning it to his pocket, never taking his eyes from hers. Sam couldn't prevent the quiver that ran through him when Tommie's husband reached to take hold of his chin again. The almost mindless fear coursing through his body kept the time traveller motionless when the powerfully built man leaned forward to kiss his split, bleeding lips lingeringly. Revulsion washed over Sam when the man slid his hand under the hem of the gown, moving it intimately up the inside of Sam's right thigh. "Don't be like the others, Tommie," he said, the gentleness of his tone belied by the look in his eyes. "Don't ever tell me "No", again." Sam couldn't help the whimper of relief when his "husband" suddenly stopped short of groping him, and stood up. He watched the man turn to leave then thinking of something, turn back. "And honey, don't stand on a kitchen chair trying to reach those high cupboards. Next time get the kitchen step ladder." Sam nodded his understanding of what he, Tommie was being told. "I've got to get to work," the young man said, turning again. "How about if I bring Chinese home for dinner tonight?" "Okay," Sam said carefully. "What time will you be home?" "When I get here," was the quiet reply. "Bye." Sam watched as Derek walked out of the bedroom. He continued to wait, and only when he heard the front door open then close, then a car's engine roar to life a minute after that, did he dare to move. Pushing himself up to a sitting position, he looked up at Al who hadn't moved from the spot he stopped at when he'd rushed out of the Imaging Chamber.